YOKOSUKA, Japan — Sailors are usually told to put their cell phones away at most Navy driven events. However, at the Leadership, Equality and Diversity (LEAD) 2016 symposium held at the Fleet Theater here, July 21 they were told to do the opposite.
The one-day symposium, which hyped the motto “empower your voice to shape the future,” focused on cultivating leadership and understanding of equality and diversity issues in the Navy by encouraging Sailors of all ranks to contribute their voice into shaping the Navy, and to listen to ideas on how they can make difference in their career and command.
Sailors were told to whip out their cell phones and use social media to communicate their questions, opinions, concerns, and ideas/solutions to speakers, panelists and other participants at the symposium about various topics such as Navy tradition, innovation, mentoring and home-work life balance.
“This is the first time I was able to take out my cell phone and communicate to leaders through Twitter,” Operation Specialist 3rd Class Heather Karel said. “This was such a new and cool experience for me as a Sailor and everyone had fun with it and was more engaged.”
The roughly 300 Sailors at the symposium tweeted their questions and comments throughout the various events using the #navyleads hashtag. Tweets were displayed on the movie theater screen for all to see.
Fleet Master Chief Susan A. Whitman, the keynote speaker, had an open discussion on the different types of leadership qualities and experiences. She explained the difference between “deckplate” and “deskplate” leadership, urging Sailors to get up and get out from behind their desks. “You learn so much about your Sailors and about being a leader,” she said.
Gas Turbine Systems Technician 1st Class Christopher Wojtan hailed the leadership symposium. He said it was interesting to hear senior leadership’s views on diversity and traditions. “It is even heart-warming to see that senior leadership share the same problems that we deal with on the deckplates,” Wojtan said.
During a segment called “Sailor Talks,” Capt. Timika Lindsay shared her personal experiences on diversity and equality, describing how she overcame the challenges of being an African-American woman.
“The LEAD symposium is designed for you to leave here and to at least know one person and discuss whatever issues they may have,” Lindsay said. “Everybody needs somebody.”
Sailors tweeted positive feedback about the symposium:
“This is an awesome symposium with so many phenomenal leaders from diverse backgrounds that are sincerely candid,” @quita80 tweeted.
“What an awesome LEAD Symposium! Let's make this a new Navy tradition. Can't wait for the next one!,” tweeted @007Samurai.
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